Trichuriasis is an infestation of the large intestine with the 3 to 5 cm. long whipworm Trichuris. Adult whipworms live in the colon and produce eggs, which pass out with the faeces to contaminate the soil. If contaminated food or water is consumed the eggs will hatch in the small intestine to form larvae that then migrate to the large intestine and mature into adult worms. The cycle takes a minimum of three months and adult worms may live for three years, and they are found throughout the tropics.
Most patients have no symptoms, but with severe infestations abdominal pain, loss of appetite and diarrhoea may occur. Badly infested children may have bloody diarrhoea and become malnourished.
The condition is diagnosed by finding the eggs on microscopic examination of the faeces.
Treatment for Trichuriasis is by the use of the drug mebendazole.